By Barry Eitel
SAN FRANCISCO (AA) – A new study announced Friday found that an executive order signed by President Donald Trump barring travelers from several Muslim-majority countries caused a rare and significant shift in public opinion.
Days after he was inaugurated in January of 2017, Trump signed Executive Order 13769 that barred citizens in seven countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The bill, often referred to as a “Muslim ban”, also barred refugees and caused mass confusion as to whether even travelers with U.S. citizenship status were allowed back into the country.
Protests at airports broke out almost immediately and the move was severely criticized by politicians and pundits.
The original order was rescinded several weeks later, but the White House has released several revised traveler bans with a rotating list of countries.
According to a study published by researchers at the University of California, Riverside, the order and the wave of protests it unleashed caused a significant change in public opinion. The pollsters found that the reactions helped spur mass opposition to the policy.
This shift in opinion was caused by “an influx of information portraying the ban as being at odds with egalitarian principles of American identity and religious liberty," the researchers wrote in their report.
The researchers interviewed hundreds of people days before Trump signed the ban. Two weeks after the ban was put into effect, the researchers interviewed the same group of people and found about 30 percent more people viewed the ban unfavorably.
Led by Loren Collingwood, the researchers found that the protests had a huge effect in causing this shift – images of protesters draped in American flags, for example, linked ideas of inclusive immigration policies to concepts of American equality.
“Our study highlights the potential broad political effects of mass movements and protests as it pertains to policies that impact racialized minority groups and suggests that preferences can shift quickly in response to changing political circumstances,” the authors explained in the report.